Capt. Willoughby (Bill) Mercer, (USN, Retired) died peacefully at his home in Coronado, Calif. on Nov. 19. He was 92 years old.

Captain Mercer was born August 8, 1915 to Nathan and Edna Willoughby Mercer of Watertown, the first of six children. He grew up in Edgartown and graduated from high school there at age 16. In 1936 he graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Harvard University, was appointed a Naval Aviation Cadet and reported to NAS Pensacola, where he was designated a Naval Aviator in September 1937. He reported to VP-1 in Pearl Harbor, HI flying Keystones as a Flying Midshipman.

While in Pensacola, he had met and courted Grace Ann Harvey, one of six children of Pensacola businessman Louis Harvey and his wife Martha. They were married in Carson City, Nev. on Sept. 26, 1938 and set up their first home in Coronado, where Captain Mercer was assigned while his squadron awaited the delivery of their new PBY Catalina flying boats. In June 1939, the squadron flew out to Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii their permanent homeport.

He made an extended pre-World War II deployment with VP-21 throughout the Pacific Theatre prior to being reassigned to VT-1 in Pensacola as a flight instructor. With the entry of the United States into WWII, Captain Mercer was ordered to VP-73, homeported in Quonset Point, R.I., and deployed for three years to Reykjavik, Iceland flying PBY-5s with the mission of providing anti-submarine protection and ice surveillance for merchant convoys delivering war materials to Europe. In late 1944, the squadron was reassigned to Port Lyautey, Morocco, where it provided anti-submarine patrols in the South Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

At the end of WWII in Europe, Captain Mercer (then Cdr) was assigned as an engineering assistant at the Naval Gun Factory in Philadelphia, where he was employed in the development of aircraft carrier catapult and arresting gear systems. He then attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Annapolis, Md. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Masters’ Degree in aeronautical engineering. He was redesignated for Aeronautical Engineering Duty (AEDO) and assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. for a three-year tour of duty in the Power Plants Division in the development and procurement of early jet engines. During a four-year tour in the mid-1950’s, he was assigned as Deputy Director and later Director of Tests at the Naval Missile Test Center at Pt. Mugu, Calif., employed in the research and development of air-to-air, surface-to-air and cruise missiles.

Captain Mercer subsequently served as director of the BuAer Power Plants Division followed by duty on the Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic staff. He then served as executive officer of the Aircraft Overhaul and Repair Facility at Naval Air Station, Alameda, Calif.

Captain Mercer’s 30-year naval career culminated in service as the Commanding Officer of the Overhaul and Repair Facility North Island (now the Naval Air Rework Facility), and then as Force Material Officer for COMNAVAIRLANT (Norfolk, VA). Following his retirement in 1966, the family moved to Coronado, where Captain and Mrs. Mercer continued to reside until his death.

After Navy retirement, Captain Mercer was employed at Ryan Aeronautical Corporation, developing target and reconnaissance drones during the Vietnam War. He also owned South Coast Surfboards, where he produced some of the outstanding surfboards of the 1960s, still valued by surfers and collectors. He then worked as a civilian employee at NAS North Island for four years developing and implementing an early Planned Maintenance System for naval aircraft maintenance and repair.

In retirement, he was active in the Coronado Yacht Club, where he was head of the racing committee and assisted in the organization of regattas. He enjoyed sailing and training several junior sailors in his racing crew, two of whom subsequently served on America’s Cup and US Olympic teams. His hobbies included sailing (particularly racing), flying gliders, and later, radio-controlled sailboats and model aircraft. He also served as a math tutor for elementary children, was a member of the Coronado Police Senior Volunteer Patrol and a docent at the San Diego Aviation Museum. He and Mrs. Mercer enjoyed many extended RV trips throughout the western states, often visiting their favorite destination, Yosemite National Park, where they went hiking well into their eighties.

Captain Mercer is survived by his wife of 69 years, Grace Harvey Mercer, daughter Grace Conrad Schwarte Littlefield and her husband Gary of Wells, Me., son Rear Admiral Thomas A. Mercer and his wife Becky of Coronado, Calif., son Dr. Robert A. Mercer and his wife JoAnn of Boulder, Colo., son John Nathan Mercer and his wife Barbara of Taylorsville, N.C., son American Airline Capt. Keith A. Mercer and his wife Jean of Southlake, Tex., and daughter Susan Mercer Hockenmaier and her husband, Pete of Ventura, Calif.; brother Stanley Mercer and his wife Marie of Chilmark; sister Rachel Burns of Centerville; 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

At Captain Mercer’s request, there will be no memorial service.

He will be interred at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery. His love of family, sense of integrity and honor, proud service to his country, and strong moral character continue to inspire all those who knew him well. For those who wish, memorial donations may be made to the Salvation Army.